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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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One could argue, contrary to Davis and Blake, that we would do well to think of motherhood even more positively and to emphasize the tremendous responsibility entailed by it. If, much more than they now do, societies came to measure the quality of parenthood and motherhood by the achievements and the quality of life of children, the constraints on family size would operate even more effectively. If the concern of parents is for the best possible development of their children, then it is important to space children widely, to expose them as much as possible to the stimuli and warm support of parental interaction, and to be a model of unselfish restraint in keeping down the size of one's family. Responsible parenthood of this kind would include living in accord with whatever national fertility goals may become morally desirable or necessary to maintain the quality of human life and guarantee a future for the human species.
Davis and Blake have stressed the need to improve the status of women by providing better and more extensive opportunities for employment and for contributions to society in ways other than through childbearing and child rearing. Employment for women and opportunities to make a variety of contributions to the human community extend the freedom of women. Better and more extensive education for women also has the effect of contributing to the quality of mothering as well as to other forms of self-realization.
It would seem to be a shortsighted policy to attack the institution of motherhood and parenthood generally. Stressing the quality of mothering and parenthood and, at the same time, providing women with alternative forms of vocation and self-realization would appear to be a morally and demographically superior policy.
To claim, as I have, that individual couples and their children benefit in certain ways from keeping families small is not to claim that these benefits will necessarily suffice to offset other forces that now keep many families large enough to maintain rates of population growth rapid enough to be troublesome to certain countries. I am maintaining, however, that to mitigate these latter forces, it is helpful to study, facilitate, and make known the benefits associated with small families; and to expose some of the fallacies of assuming that individual couples who actively seek the satisfaction of child-bearing and child rearing will generally benefit most by having relatively large families or even as many children as they can afford.
There are certain practical guidelines that should be part of the formulation and implementation of population policies. Generally, these guidelines draw in a special way upon the norm of veracity, i.e., truth-telling, anded for the middle class as well as the working class.